Sunday, December 30, 2012

Chinatown on Charlestown Road, and a "rewind" to "On the very nature of nay-saying."

In all sincerity, it's good that Earth Friends is relocating to Louisville, and the Exchange already is up and running at its new downtown New Albany location.

But the departures leave two vacancies in the commercial area just inside the beltway on Grant Line Road, near the original location of my own beer and food business. Granted, these could be filled soon, and the overall situation is by no means bad in my Northside neighborhood.

It also could be better, and there doesn't seem to be any firm public plan on the part of local, various economic "development" entities or business owners themselves to improve prospects therein, although getting the Grant Line Road construction project finished certainly helps. To me, the ultimate goal remains connecting IUS with Community Park, and maintaining a locally-owned economy as much as possible in between.

Arguably, matters are far less hopeful on Charlestown Road, roughly between Slate Run Road and Silver Street. There are quite a few commercial vacancies there, especially amid the zombie fast food row by McDonald’s. The ideal solution would be to raze all of it and replant trees, but American capitalism probably precludes such a reason-based course.

A long time ago – 2005, to be exact – when downtown was as yet moribund and revitalization meant anywhere else except here, we returned from a trip to Chicago and it struck me that metro Louisville needed an Asian community like the Windy City’s thriving Chinatown. I looked at the empty buildings downtown and thought, hmm, this looks like a fine place for it; if we can’t do it, I bet the Chinese could. China has the investment capital and the work ethic. Just let ‘em have the buildings, and get out of the way.

Perhaps now that the doughnut hole has moved to Charlestown Road, so has the ideal location of our Chinatown, with Indonesian where the Wendy’s used to be, and Filipino at the old KFC. Colonial Manor could function as NA’s Iroquois, with a grocery as good as ValuMarket. I’m not sure where this leaves Sonic, but we'll figure it out.

Here’s the article I wrote seven years ago. The pink spitwad blogyard has yielded to decaying tabletop linoleum, and while much has been accomplished, much more needs to be done. We might need a Russian oligarch for this.


Rog's rant: On the very nature of nay-saying (June 21, 2005)

We spent the weekend in Chicago, and as is the case every time I return home from a trip, it takes a few days to adjust to the state of mind.

The culture shock stands to be a bit greater this time.

Our hotel in Chicago, chosen because it was the cheapest in close proximity to downtown, was located in the heart of Chinatown, one hundred yards from the subway stop and several thousand miles away from just another place to stay.

By this I mean that Chicago’s Chinatown is just that – touristy to an expected degree, but filled to the brim with, well, people from China (and some from Vietnam, Malaysia and other Asian locales). Sometimes none of the voices to be heard are speaking English. It’s easy to catch yourself thinking that you’re somewhere else, not Illinois.

Stand at the right spot, and the aromas of cooking fill the street, emanating from ubiquitous restaurants with dining rooms often tucked away on upper floors, eateries relieving tourists like us of our cash while pulling extra duty as community centers.

Early Sunday morning we entered a bakery and were shooed into the almost hidden rear section, where the satellite television was entirely in Chinese. The staff spoke English, but the customers in the crowded room paid little heed to it. I checked off breakfast choices, including dim sum and doughy pastries, on a card and handed it to the waitress, who returned with tea and hot sauce.

What were the men talking about? I’ll never know what the men smoking by the no smoking sign were talking about, but their conversation was animated and filled with laughter.


We returned home today, and after checking e-mail, I perused the local blogs and other usual daily sites, thinking all the while that while it’s a clear case of apples and oranges to compare the range of options and attractions in an immense metropolitan area like Chicago to those in and around Louisville, at the same time, why must we perpetually insist that superstition and backwardness are our best friends?

I’m not speaking here about Scribner Place, Cannon Acres, the City Council, the Mayor, or any of the specific local political topics that have been discussed at NA Confidential since its inception last year.

Rather, with the memory of Chicago’s vibrant neighborhoods and can-do spirit fresh in my mind, I’m referring to the recurring phenomenon hereabouts that currently enjoys its most prominent, and saddest, manifestation in apoplectic opposition to progress in the city of New Albany, an opposition that unfortunately doesn’t confine itself to screaming that present circumstances stand in the way of progress, but that taken together, all past mistakes by any and all politicians and community leaders indicate that we simply can’t do anything right, and should never, ever try.

I am utterly sickened by this cancerous attitude.

Why, if not stemming from unadulterated envy, is it that people who lack the ability to understand insist that their incomprehension is sufficient reason to deny others the opportunity to learn?

Why, if not from simple self-loathing, is it that people take pride in their ignorance, rather than take the steps necessary to gain knowledge?

Why, if not from our own timidity and a respect for fair play that goes far beyond that accorded us in return, should people like these be allowed to use their own lack of imagination and creativity as veto power over varieties of progress that will benefit the remainder of the community?

Of course, these shrieking cyber-punks are not the truly downtrodden, genuinely poverty-stricken, disenfranchised "little people" they so fancifully imagine themselves to be, and since no one else will say it, I will: These "Concern Taxpayers" and "New Albany Residents" don't care one jot for those in this town who really do have it badly.

It's all about tearing down ideas and people that they wrongly perceive to be "above them," not lifting up those they're comfortably sure are below, and even though this is nonsensical at best and repugnant at worst, it's the way it is.

In defense of people like these, it was recently stated elsewhere that they:

“Are not stupid, ignorant, recessive thinking globs of people. (They) are people who happen to have a different opinion, or aren't quite convinced that this (progress) is a good idea.”


Readers, if you haven't already done so, go to the pink spitwad blogyard and feel the hatred oozing between the angry words. Consider the anonymity that cloaks it. Remember that its readers support all-American concepts like censorship. Now, ask yourself: What is it that would make these people happy beyond the confines of their own four walls, and the knowledge that not one cent of their taxes went to fund a better community?

It isn't pretty, is it?

In fact, it's often vicious, and goes far beyond reasoned debate and benign disagreement.

Stupid? Ignorant? Recessive (spregressive, Laura)?

Their words. Not mine. And if the shoes fit ... then wear them to exit New Albany, like our best and brightest young people continually do, because always standing between them and the remaking of a city in the future tense are the nay-saying Brambleberries, prepared for no sacrifice or gainful efforts of their own beyond that necessary to brutally kneecap progress in any form and preserve their own fiefdoms of futility.

Or, as I've done, you can stay right here and join me in fighting the Luddites every step of the way. To those who have no plan of their own, and want to make sure that progressivism is not allowed to have one, either, because they hate the future just as much as they hate the capable and talented, I've got this to say: you cannot win. You cannot stop the globe from spinning, or the pages of the calendar from turning.

We'd prefer their cooperation in making this city a better place to live, but we're quite prepared to do it without them.

Heh heh. I feel much better now.

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